Key Organizations in Free & Open-Source Software – Sun Microsystems

Key Organizations in Free & Open-Source Software – Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems, Inc. is a manufacturer of computer systems (many based around the company’s own SPARC microprocessor, but others based around x86 processors manufactured by Intel and AMD), computer hardware, computer software and associated services. The company was originally founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

Sun is listed on NASDAQ under the ticker SUNW. The company employs approximately 34,600 people, and had revenue of US $13.783 billion, and net income of over US $473 million as of 2007.

Over the years, Sun has developed and supported many operating systems. The first Sun workstations shipped with UniSoft V7 Unix, but Sun soon switched to SunOS, a closed source operating system developed by customizing BSD UNIX. In the late 1980s however, AT&T, at that time the owner of UNIX System V, purchased 20% of Sun, and the two companies jointly developed UNIX System V Release 4 (“SVR4”). SVR4 was used as the foundation of Sun’s next operating system, Solaris 2. Since that time, Solaris has been through many upgrades, and since 2005, the majority of Solaris source code has been released under as open source under the CDDL license. Since 2002, Sun has also been involved with Linux, and supports Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux on some of their systems.

Another Sun developed technology is the Java platform. The Java platform consists of three main components: the Java programming language, the Java virtual machine (JVM), and the Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The design of the platform has, since 1998, been developed by a formalized community process known as the Java Community Process (JCP). In November 2006, Sun announced plans to release their implementation of Java under the GPL, and indeed immediately released their Java compiler and JVM under the GPL.

Sun also the owner of the StarOffice office suite, which it obtained when it purchased the StarDivision software company in 1999. Although StarOffice is closed source software, it formed the basis for which is an open source office suite, released under the LGPL.